Division of Chemical Engineering and Renewable Energy

Research Themes

Research within the Division is focused on the following themes:

Electroactive nanostructured materials for energy conversion & storage

Dr Ana Jorge Sobrido's research focuses on developing new electroactive nanostructured materials for energy conversion & storage technologies, including PEM fuel cells, PEM water electrolysers, metal-air batteries, redox flow batteries and photocatalytic water splitting. The high cost of noble metal catalysts employed is one of the major drawbacks to their full development and exploitation. Our group aims to design highly efficient and stable low-cost electrocatalyst and photocatalyst materials through a careful understanding of structure-property relationships.

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Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) materials for energy conversion and storage

Dr Petra Agota Szilagyi's research is focussed on sustainably producing metal-organic frameworks for sustainability applications. Metal-organic frameworks are fascinating materials sitting on the inorgani/organic interface, typically exhibiting high crystallinity and porosity. They are a unique class of materials in the sense that both their pore geometry and chemistry can be independently tailored giving rise to unprecedented properties and opportunities including in the field of energy conversion and storage. However, they are still fairly costly and they are typically synthesised under harsh, environmentally demanding conditions.
 
Our work includes the aqueous syntheses of framework materials from sustainable resources including the upcycling of waste. Particular emphasis is given to fine-tuning host-guest ineractions within the pores of metal-organic frameworks (host) for applications as catalysts (via embedding nanoclusters in the pores), ion-exchange membranes (for alkaline fuel cells) and solid-state ion conductors (e.g. in all-solid-state batteries).

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Sustainable energy generation using nanostructured functional materials

Dr Joe Briscoe's research is focussed on investigating a range of new materials, structures and material combinations for use in nanostructured, low-cost photovoltaics and photocatalysis. This includes earth-abundant and biomass-derived (renewable) materials, oxide-based devices, hybrid organic-inorganic lead-halide perovskites and dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSC). He is also continuing to develop ZnO nanorod-based energy harvesters (nanogenerators) including exploring commercial applications.

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Soft matter and porous materials for sustainable energy engineering applications

Dr Edo Boek's research is focused on sustainable energy engineering, soft matter,  flow and transport of complex fluids in porous materials, multi-scale imaging and simulation. I investigate how the macroscopic behaviour of complex systems emerges from the underlying microscopic behaviour. My research includes multi-phase and reactive flow in porous media, emulsions, clean fossil fuels, CO2 storage, clay swelling, crystal growth, wormlike micellar fluids and asphaltene aggregation / deposition. Current applications are in the areas of renewable energy, battery design, fuel cells and supercapacitors. In particular, I am interested in the design and optimisation of novel carbon fiber / slurry electrodes for electrochemical devices, including Redox Flow Batteries, Electrolysers ans Fuel Cells, using combined synthesis, pore scale imaging and reactive multi-phase flow modelling. I develop both experimental and computational methods for my research. Experimental methods include micro-fluidics, (confocal) microscopy, rheology and X-ray micro-tomography. Computer simulation methods include lattice-Boltzmann, Multi-Particle Collision Dynamics, and Molecular Dynamics.

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